Where do you turn when you need to explain a simple technique or help someone with a software issue? While you could write a detailed email explaining the steps, often show-and-tell is quicker and more effective. Simple screen sharing software lets you show a remote user how to perform a task or fix a software problem. You can also use it to receive tech support help from an expert anywhere in the world.
We look at what you need to know when choosing a screen sharing solution, and we list a few great tools to get you started.
Choose the Right Screen-sharing Program
There are lots of screen-sharing applications, and each comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. To select the program that best suits your needs, consider the following questions:
1. Do you need a one-to-one connection or a one-to-many? One-to-one programs connect two users—one to give the help and the other to receive it. Using a one-to-many solution lets one person display his or her screen, so that other people can see it and learn by watching.
2. Do you need to display just your screen, or will you also need to see someone else's screen? If you need to view another screen, do you also need to take control of it to fix a problem or to demonstrate a solution?
3. Do you support only PCs, or will you also need to provide help with Macs or even Android devices or iPads?
Finally, if your users aren’t technically literate, choose a solution that is simple for the other person to implement—not one that that brings with it technical challenges all of its own.
3 Screen-sharing and Remote Access Tools
In terms of installation and ease of use, Join.me (by LogMeIn) is one of the simplest screen-sharing tools, and it works really well. The program comes in a free and for-fee version, and the good news is that, for most users, the free version is all you need.
|Possibly the simplest screen-sharing and remote desktop application, Joinme supports PC, Mac, Android and iPad.|
The application runs from a free download that you get on the site's homepage; just click the Start Meeting link to start the download. Install the application, and click to start a meeting. You'll get a short code to share with other participants— up to 10 people at a time. The participants go to the Join.me website, and type the code in the box; they can then see your screen in their browser.
The application supports both PC and Mac for screen sharing. People with an iPad, iPhone or Android device can see your screen, but they can't share theirs. The application includes Internet calling so you can communicate with participants while you share the screen. It's also possible to view another participant's screen and to remote access it too.
Show My PC
Show My PC lets you share and control remote desktops. Available in both a free and a for-fee version, the free version is a tiny Java download that you need to install from the website. Once installed, you launch the application and click the Show My PC Now option.
You then receive a password, which you share with other participants. They install and launch the software on their computer, and enter the password so they can see your screen. It is also possible for them to share their screen back with you and to give you remote control of it. The program also includes a chat feature that incorporates a webcam link and sound.
This application works on Windows, Mac and Linux computers. With no registration or login required, Show MY PC is a simple solution for quick support needs.
Google+ Hangouts is free tool that you can use for training and getting help. Hangouts work best when everyone already has a Google account, and they're set up to use Google+. That saves you the time involved getting everyone started.
Users go to Hangouts and start a new hangout. The can then initiate a video call and invite the other users to join. Once the hangout is in progress, click the Screenshare option to choose what part of the screen you want to share.
If you want to use Hangouts for remote desktop access, you need to install the Remote Desktop app before you can do so. You'll find the app in the same panel as the Screenshare option. Once installed, you can control someone else's computer during the Hangout provided they give you permission to do so.
Google+ also provides access to voice and live video so you can see and talk to participants during the Hangout. This combination of tools makes Hangouts suitable for a range of uses in addition screens-sharing.
Whether you need to provide a quick help solution or extensive troubleshooting to one or more people, you can choose from plenty of free applications. They don't require huge software downloads or a lot of technological know-how to set up or use, so you can get in, give (or get help), and get back to work quickly when you are done.
Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. You can learn more about her at her Web site, HelenBradley.com
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